A $4,000 Chickasaw-owned horse that crossed finish lines to earn more than $1 million this year fell just short of winning the coveted Triple Crown of quarter horse racing on Sunday.
Wicked Courage was the first horse since 2005 to vie for the Triple Crown. Only a trio of quarter horses has won the Triple Crown since formal racing of the breed began in the 1940s.
Owner Andrew Smith, a Chickasaw citizen and Ardmore resident, was confident Wicked Courage would win the Ruidoso Downs All American Derby on Labor Day. Had the horse won, it would have claimed top prizes in three races considered the coup d’état of quarter horse racing.
The Cinderella story came to an end after Wicked Courage was slow out of the gate and became boxed in on the rail behind three other horses.
As the race announcer said: “Wicked Courage has nowhere to go.”
The horse could not stay on the rail and pull ahead and could not go wide. He was surrounded by competitors and finished the race seventh.
“I’m disappointed, but the sun came up today so everything will be okay,” Mr. Smith said Sept. 3.
Ninety days of rest are in store for the 3-year-old gelding, who was a heavy favorite to win last Sunday.
“We may not run him until March at Remington Park,” Mr. Smith said. “I want him to rest up, eat some grass and just relax some. He’s a great horse and still the fastest horse in America as far as I’m concerned.”
Wicked Courage moved into the top slot in the nation Aug. 6. He then proved he was one of the finest quarter horses in America by finishing second Aug. 17 by qualifying for the final leg of the Triple Crown. Wicked Courage finished second with a time of 21.16 seconds in the 440-yard race.
The finish was uncanny since the horse stumbled out of the gate, went to its knees, got up and shot toward the finish line.
The first quarter horse to win the Triple Crown was My Easy Credit in 1977.
Dash For Speed did it 10 years later in 1988, and DM Shicago won all the marbles in 2005.
The modern era of quarter horse racing began in the 1940s and has grown in popularity exponentially with voter-approved pari-mutuel gaming.
Wicked Courage has earned $1.13 million since winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown – the Ruidoso Derby and Rainbow Derby.
The total purse for the Labor Day race was $2.8 million. Half went to the winner and the other half was split.
Mr. Smith said his horse earned $91,000 for seventh place in a 10-horse field.